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Ray Comfort (b. 1949)
Ray Comfort is living proof that Abraham's god [AG] does not exist: the god who evolved from one of the 70 children of El to the one god of the universe: omnipotent, omniscient, all-good; creator of everything, tracker of who's been naughty and who's been nice, and rewarder (with eternal bliss for the nice) or punisher (with eternal torments for the naughty). There is one minor flaw with the argument from the existence of Ray Comfort to the non-existence of AG, and I will get to both the argument and the flaw shortly. First, I should note who Ray Comfort is for those who haven't heard of him.
Comfort is a young Earth creationist, fundamentalist Christian evangelist, zealous anti-evolutionist, and author of such blockbusters as You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think. He was born in New Zealand, but currently lives in California.
One of his more notable publications is the introduction he wrote for the 2009 publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). Comfort has a reputation for scientific and historical ignorance, so it is no surprise that his introduction is a compendium of lies, errors, distortions, personal attacks, and plagiarisms. According to his website on what he calls The Origin into Schools Project, Comfort has given away 194,000 copies. He says: "Nothing has been removed from Darwin’s original work." However, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, says he deleted four chapters by Darwin that describe the evidence for evolution. When confronted with this fact, Comfort admitted he had removed the chapters, but claimed that his selection was random and done to save money.
Some might think that
Comfort's dazzling array of
misunderstandings regarding atheism and evolution provides
strong support for the AG hypothesis. Who else but AG would create a creature who says that atheists believe
universe was created by nothing? The idea is absurd,
atheist has ever claimed such a thing, therefore, AG exists. To
some this is an airtight argument, but I have my doubts. (It is
possible, for example, that Comfort equivocates on the word
'created'. I'm surprised, though, that he didn't claim that all atheists believe that the universe created itself out of
nothing, as both Dawkins and Krauss do.)
Now to the proof that AG does not exist from the mere fact that Ray Comfort exists.
One of Comfort's more egregious misunderstandings of evolution is his idea of how species emerge.
There is no indisputable evidence for species to species evolution. All “evidence” comes down to faith — does the believer believe the dating process or the information given by other believers in evolution. The mantra is that there are millions of fossils that scientifically prove evolution. I am often sent long lists of missing links. But as I investigate each one, they are not true missing links between kinds. There are millions of fossils that reveal adaptation within kinds, but there are no undisputed fossils that show one species (kind) evolving into another species (kind). The links between kinds were missing in Darwin’s day, and 150 years later they are still missing. To date I have seen no evidence for the theory of evolution.*
He and many other anti-evolutionists who have never studied scientific evolution believe that evolutionists think that new species are literally borne by other species. They think it possible for, say, a chimp to give birth to a human or a crocodile to give birth to a crocoduck. When that happens, some of the more obtuse creationists say, they'll believe in evolution. No evolutionary scientist believes one species ever gave birth to another species. Every animal that has been born has been borne by a mother of the same species. As all but some obtuse creationists know, offspring are not identical to their parents. Some of the variations in offspring might be more beneficial than others in terms of survival and reproduction. Over time, an accumulation of variations in a population may result in a new species. It should go without saying that for those creatures that do not give birth, evolutionary biologists do not claim that any have ever produced a new species in a single replication by whatever process. Comfort and his ignorant comrades falsely claim that evolutionary biologists think that transitional species occur in a single generation. That is not a view evolutionists hold. There are transitionsal species--the so-called missing links--but they occur many generations apart from the species they evolved from and into.
Comfort, however, has a different notion of what evolutionists claim. Comfort thinks that evolutionists claim that the male of a species might evolve independently of the female of that species. He is, of course, arguing against a straw man, since no scientific evolutionist ever believed such an absurd notion. His argument does serve a purpose, however. It proves that AG does not exist.
Since I will probably be accused of distorting Comfort's position (it is that ridiculous), here are his own words:
Imagine being there when the first dog evolved. Let's say it's the African hunting dog (Lycaon pictus), the wild canid of Africa. There was a big bang, and millions of years later an animal with a tail and four legs, a liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, ears and eyes evolved (through natural speciation) into the first dog. Fortunately for him, his eyes had evolved to maturity after millions of years of blindness, so that he could see the first female dog that had evolved standing by him. It was actually very fortunate, because if the female dog hadn't evolved also and been at the right place at the right time, with the right parts and the willingness to mate, he would have been a dead dog. He needed a female to keep the species alive.
Comfort puts forth many similarly false and ridiculous claims as if they were real ideas in the scientific community. He then ridicules the ideas and concludes that evolution is absurd and his beliefs in talking snakes and other Biblical wonders are true. Think about it. A man claims to prove an omniscient, omnipotent being exists by providing a series of inane, false, demented ravings. He claims to be living proof of an intelligent designer of the universe and to be his spokesman on Earth. If such a being as AG did exist, he would annihilate Comfort for making people think that AG is a moron. Comfort has not been annihilated. Therefore,AG does not exist. Case closed.
Some people may say that AG is beyond our ability to understand and that what we think is bad, unintelligent, etc. may actually be good, intelligent, etc. and vice-versa. So it is possible that there is a flaw in my argument: perhaps AG is a moron and is actually pleased by the work of creatures like Ray Comfort.
Ray Comfort is the Ben Stein of televangelism. He once spent $6,000 for one month's rent of a billboard in Southern California on Interstate 105.
update: August 2013. Comfort has come out with a follow-up to his 2009 publication of Darwin's Origin of Species--the one that omitted the four chapters where Darwin presents the evidence for natural selection. As noted above, Comfort claimed of his version of Darwin's magnum opus that "Nothing has been removed from Darwin’s original work." So, it should not be surprising to find Comfort once again lying for his god. From his own description of his latest project I think he may have topped his own capacity for delusion and deception, which was nearly infinite to begin with.
His latest project is a 36-minute movie called “Evolution vs. God.” He says he interviewed scientists at UCLA and USC, asking them for "observable scientific evidence for evolution." What does he mean? As already noted, he and his intellectual twin Kirk Cameron consider "observable scientific evidence for evolution" to be such things as a chimpanzee giving birth to a human or a crocodile giving birth to a crocoduck. Since Comfort doesn't understand that every evolutionary biologist knows that no animal of any species has ever given birth to a member of another species, he can't possibly understand what kind of evidence is scientific evidence in support of evolution. Fortunately for him, there are millions of people who are just as ignorant as he is of the mechanisms by which evolution occurred. There are also many who find Comfort's inanity entertaining. If you fall into either camp, you can watch "Evolution vs. God" by clicking here. (One of the promo quotes--from Ron Fathauer of GospelCry, the internationally recognized expert on talking snakes and other science facts from the Bible--if true, will destroy Comfort's thesis. The quote is: "Dawkins will have a cow!")
For some ungodly reason Comfort did not interview the millions of Jews and Christians who accept evolution and see no confict between believing in Abraham's god and not rejecting scientific knowledge. Jaclyn Glenn has her own video response to Comfort's latest cinema falsité.[/update]
books and articles
Darwin, Charles. From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books (Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals). ed. E. O. Wilson.
The simple mind of Ray Comfort ("Protestant author Ray Comfort recently said that 'the Vatican has chosen to officially believe Darwin rather than Jesus' ... In the name of diversity, the Vatican is encouraging atheism, and that’s a terrible betrayal of Christianity.'")
Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant by Richard Dawkins
Intelligent Design: Humans, Cockroaches, and the Laws of Physics Victor J. Stenger (1997)
Cosmythology: Was the Universe Designed to Produce Us? By Victor J. Stenger
The Tyranny of Design by Henry Gee (subscribers only)
The Panda's Thumb - explaining the theory of evolution
TalkDesign.org - critical examination of the ID movement
Understanding Evolution website for teachers (UC Berkeley)
The Crusade Against Evolution by Evan Ratliff
'Intelligent Design' Meets Artificial Intelligence by Taner Edis, Skeptical Inquirer (March/April 2001).
Nutty Professors, or Some Addled Academics? Robert A. Baker
Naturalism is an Essential Part of Science and Critical Inquiry by Steven D. Schafersman
Talk Reason - a collection of articles opposing so-called intelligent design theory
Darwin on Religion from his Autobiography
Evolution & Creationism: Terminology in Conflict by Richard Joltes
Unintelligent Design By Jim Holt
A Brief History of Deep Time by Russell Seitz
Intelligent Design, Online Edition Finally, something from the HuffPo a skeptic can believe in! Is it possible that a Christian defender of ID lied?
Another Discovery Institute Bill Fails…(Like bills in Iowa and elsewhere around the country, this legislation has foundered and literally died without being heard in committee during this year’s 60-day session which just ended....The bill stipulated that public school teachers may not penalize a student in any way because that student subscribes to a particular position on biological evolution or chemical evolution.)
Not the whole truth by Roger Downey or Icons of Evolution vs. Evolution (or the Discovery Institute vs. PBS)
Darwinism Under Attack - View that 'intelligent force' shaped life attracts students and troubles scientists By Beth McMurtrie, Chronicle of Higher Education
On the Box with Ray Comfort: Ray Comfort's blog